Sunday, March 26, 2006

Religious India Defeats Secular India

Melvin Durai

Melvin Durai is an Indiana-based writer and humorist. Born in Tamil Nadu, India, he grew up in Zambia and moved to the U.S. in the early 1980s. In 1995, while working as a reporter for a daily newspaper in Chambersburg, Pa., he began writing a regular humor column. His weekly column now appears in several newspapers and on a number of Web sites. He also writes a twice-monthly column on Indian and Indian-American issues.

A friend recently reminded me that India is a secular state, prompting me to burst out laughing. It was the funniest thing I had heard since someone used the words "honest" and "politician" in the same sentence.

If India can accurately be described as "secular," then Mike Tyson is well within his rights to call himself "stable."

To be sure, a young India groomed itself as a secular state, one that would not favor a particular religion over another. But the India of 1950 is not the same as the India of 2002, Dev Anand's hairstyle notwithstanding.

It's a good thing Mahatma Gandhi isn't alive today to see the religious hatred that the political leaders of "secular India" have wrought. If he were to meet Narendra Modi, the Gujarat chief minister who did little to prevent the recent massacre of Muslims, Gandhi would be tempted to set aside nonviolence for a few minutes to give Modi a good beating.

Western reporter: "Mr. Gandhi, you believe in nonviolence, don't you? Then why did you strike Mr. Modi?"

Gandhi: "Mr. Modi turned a blind eye on the slaughter of Muslims. I merely spent a few minutes turning his blind eye into a black eye. Perhaps he can see better now."

Reporter: "But Mr. Gandhi, didn't you once say that an eye for an eye would make the whole world blind?"

Gandhi: "Yes, but I was speaking in general terms. Man cannot live without exceptions."

My dictionary defines secular as "not specifically relating to religion or to a religious body." But even this definition is open to interpretation. It can be argued, for example, that the BCCI, India's cricket board, is "secular," despite the fact that millions of people follow cricket religiously. Not to mention that so many of them worship Sachin Tendulkar.

But it's harder to argue that the nation is secular, not when politics and religion are so intertwined, when the ruling BJP is described as a "Hindu nationalist" party, when the government supports militant religious groups that turn one Indian against another. Under these circumstances, expecting India to be secular is like expecting Bill Clinton to be celibate. It's virtually impossible.

We Indians are fond of describing our motherland as the "world's largest democracy," a title that has been earned partly through the efforts of ordinary people, who routinely face two major challenges: (1) deciding which political candidate to vote for: the corrupt one or the crazy one; and (2) figuring out how to avoid the social worker from the family planning office.

We are also fond of describing India as "secular," going so far as to compare it to America, a country where the killer of a Hindu is prosecuted as aggressively as the killer of a Christian, where the police are required to give equal protection to ordinary citizens, whether they worship Jesus, Allah, Shiva or Tendulkar. If that reminds you of India, perhaps you need a few more visits to your psychiatrist.

When western reporters use the term "Hindu India" or "Hindu-dominated India," some Indians are quick to criticize them: "India is a secular country, you morons. It is not like Saudi Arabia, Iran, or, god-forbid, Pakistan."

Call me crazy, but I'd rather have a "Hindu India" that values EVERY life than a "secular India" that turns its back on religious minorities.


Blogger Russoue said...

Excuse me, can you please tell why you are calling blogs like salamdhaka anti-Bangladesh blog? I am a regular leader of that blog, but honestly, I did not find anything which can be termed anti-Bangladesh. May be there are some political views but definitely those are not against Bangladesh.

8:56 AM  
Blogger Razib Rashedin said...


I am sick of these people who regularly publishes fabricated negative stories on Bangladesh. I wouldn't have called them anti-bangladesh if they would have highlighted the positive aspects as well. But if you look closely, they don't utter a single word when something good happens to Bangladesh. I can understand that these whole 'group' is a fierce AL supporter but that's hardly a problem. Intentionally or un-intentionally , by spreading negative propaganda on Bangaldesh and thus by influencing the global community, they think that they can help secure AL the power. But their 'evil' mission only damages and brings discomforts to millions of Bangladeshis who live abroad and at home. Where Bangaldeshis have achieved a lot and are still working hard to establish a stronger 'Bangladeshi' reputation ,these people just sit on comfy couch and vomits on their own country just to show the rest of the world how disgusting their country is ! I think as a Bangladeshi, I have the right to call these people and their supporters anti-Bangladeshi as these people have the rights to say whatever they want.

1:50 PM  
Blogger Russoue said...

Thanks Razib, I understood your point. I am not going to agree or disagree with you at this point in time. I think I should go through those four blogs more carefully and try to verify your observation on them. I will get back to you after that.

11:49 AM  

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